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Fun in Florida

We had so many events scheduled in December that we found it hard to keep track of all the events happening in and around Solivita.  We Enjoyed Scrooge the Musical at Osceola Playhouse.  This was a fun event.  Osceola Playhouse is in Kissimmee, only a short drive from Solivita, their website is and it is worth a visit.  The playhouse is a nice spot to see a show, take an art or pottery class, or volunteer and share your talents while learning some new ones.  Osceola Arts always has something going on.   You can buy a ticket for the season and see all their offerings or just purchase a ticket for one show.
We visited Gaylord Palms and experienced Christmas Around the World Ice Event, the Enchanting Light Show, the Cirque Unwrapped Show, and enjoyed the beautiful Christmas Trees at Gaylord.   We visited the Alpine Village, took pleasure in sharing dinner with family, and ended our evening with Coffee by the Firepit.   Gaylord Palms is only a few short miles from Solivita.
We took the children skating in Celebration and we watched the snowfall, Florida Style.
Solivita had a Great Holiday Kick Off to the Season with their Tree Lighting Celebration.  Later we took a golf cart ride around our community to view our neighbors brightly decorated homes and enjoyed hot chocolate on Lemon Grove Drive.  
New Year’s Eve is always fun in Solivita.  We had cocktails, attended the dinner at Mosaics where we enjoyed the company of friends while listening to music.  The Street Party was fun too, we danced the night away in the warmth of the Central Florida Weather.  I think this may have been one of the warmest New Year’s Eves in years.   Solivita poured Champagne, handed out horns and hats, dropped the ball, and began 2018 with a Great Fireworks Display.   What a Pleasure, to have well planned events in our community; nice dinners, dancing, entertainment; all easy and fun since we just hop in our Golf Cart and Go.  Which by the way, was decorated for New Year’s Eve.  
To finish a month of Celebrations, this Saturday we are going to neighbors for their Annual New Year Brunch and on Sunday we are attending Casino Night.  Oh, Monday is Trivia, the plans and events just keeps on coming.  Better look at our calendar as I know we have more planned and we do not want to miss any of it.    Come to Solivita and see for yourself how lovely life in Central Florida truly is.  We Do Live Better Here for Less.  Our neighbors and our neighborhood is active.  You can be busy or not, it is all up to you.    You can participate in planned activities or plan your own.  Spend a day on the golf course, an afternoon at the pool, or an hour playing tennis, all in your own backyard surrounded by beauty and warm weather.  

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Dining at the Boathouse

Disney Springs is a great spot to enjoy shopping, dining, bowling, the movies, music, live entertainment, and some good fun within a few short miles of Solivita.  Lee and I always take guests to Disney Springs, it is an easy afternoon or evening, as there is so much to do.  Disney Springs offers something for every age and provides entertainment in all kinds of weather.  Just wandering around the Springs is fun. You can enjoy a pastry, a cup of tea, ice cream, candy, a light snack, a cocktail, or a great dinner.  It is all up to you.  

One of our all-time favorite restaurants at Disney Springs is the Boathouse.  We have never dined inside, but we do love to dine on the deck at the water’s edge.  The lake is beautiful and from the Boathouse Deck you can catch a breeze while enjoying the parade of Vintage Amphicars, Glistening Italian Water Taxis and Ferry Boats sail by.  Lee and I share a glass of wine, and just sit back and enjoy the perfection of Disney Dining, and the beauty of Central Florida.  The fish is always fresh, the steaks are always cooked to order, and the wine list is extensive.  

In the evening, nature provides a beautiful show as the sunset from this spot is spectacular, but since we are at Disney, the Boathouse also has live music, so if the sunset is not spectacular, the music and the wine usually is.   Lee loves the fish tacos, but my favorite menu item is the Lump Crab and Avocado Cocktail, it is the perfect bite for lunch or dinner.  We have dined here many times and have never been disappointed.  Tourists travel from around the world travel to Central Florida, our home.  Travel time from Solivita to Disney Springs is only about 30 minutes; close enough to enjoy this destination often.  We are very lucky to live in the Beautiful Community of Solivita and have world class entertainment at our door.

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How to Pick the Right Realtor for You!

Selling Your Home, Buying A Home, Building A Home; all life changing events that require a good Realtor and a Great Negotiator.  When looking for a Realtor it is critical you choose the Right Realtor for you.  Always ask around, a recommendation from a client is the best advertisement any realtor could ask for.  If your neighbors, friends, or family have used a realtor that has found them the perfect home, or the perfect buyer for their home, obtained a great deal for them, made themselves available, and provided personalized good service, then this is the realtor for you.    Bella Verde is that Realty Company, but if you have asked around, you already know us and our reputation.  

A good realtor has the contacts to help you sell your home, knows your target audience, and can recommend a strategy that will work for you.  A locally owned realtor understands the local market trends, and will provide you with the top-quality service you deserve.

The realtor you choose will know how to price your resale home correctly and how to attract buyers.  The Agents at Bella Verde Realty are true professionals with a desire to help you find or sell your home at the right price to the right client.    

When building a new home, our agents are experienced and here to help negotiate the best options for you at the best costs.  We Will monitor the build, keep you updated as to the progress of your new home, and keep you abreast of any problems or changes that may occur during the building process.   We are your eyes and ears, and can save you from encountering expensive, unpleasant issues that may result when you live in one area but build in another.  The Realtors at Bella Verde Realty have solid relationships with the builders.   Bella Verde Realty represents your best interests, and assures you that through our representation you will get the best home and the best deal possible.    

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Lobster, Lobster, Lobster

When living in NJ, it was a hop, skip and a jump to a great Lobster Dinner. We could cross the GW and dine in City Island, take the Parkway “down the shore”, or head up 95 to New England for a great lobster dinner. In Central Florida, we do see lobster on a menu occasionally, but we don’t often see them swimming in tanks. In our memory, almost every restaurant up north had a lobster tank. We are both fans of lobster, we enjoy them steamed, grilled, served chilled, and I especially love a good lobster roll. You know the kind, served on a soft, split bun with toasted sides, piled high with lots of sweet lobster and hardly any mayo, served with lettuce and fresh lemon. I had not seen a lobster roll on a menu since moving to Florida; but in Celebration we have found a place that brings us back to our roots; Celebration Town Tavern.

The Beer is Cold, Lobsters are swimming in the tank, and the Tavern makes a great Clam Chowder. My brother- in-law, Gregg also raves about their Lobster Bisque. There is something here for everyone to enjoy. Lee and I go for a pot of steamers, chowder and a lobster roll with lots of fresh lemon. We have never been disappointed. This is a great, casual place to have some fun and eat some good seafood. On Game Days, the football games are on and if you are a NE Fan this is the place to be. The Beer on Tap is cold and fresh and the crowd is always out for a good time. Nothing Fancy, just Really Good New England Style Fun and Food. No need for a trip to the “Shore” with Celebration Tavern less than 30 minutes away from Solivita.

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Hurricane Irma in Solivita

Update from Central Florida. For days leading up to Irma we listened and watched the forecasts, and we prepared. Solivita, our friends, the Bella Verde Team, and our clients packed up outdoor potted plants, locked down windows, closed blinds and shutters, moved outdoor furniture, grills, umbrellas, tables, and Bella Verde For Sale Signs into indoor storage. We filled our bathtubs with water and filled our gas tanks too. We stocked up on flashlights, batteries, drinking water and “truth be told” some of us purchased a few extra bottles of wine, just in case. By Friday evening we were ready to meet Irma.

Saturday Irma rolled in as predicted with high winds with lots of rain. Our beautiful blue skies turned gray and the rain pelted our homes and our office. The forecast was for Irma to be over Solivita and Central Florida by 2 am. Around midnight the wind seemed to speed up and we decided it was time to try to sleep. It was a long night, but for Solivita it was a good night. The utilities in Solivita are underground, therefore we had no fear of a tree falling and landing on a power line, or having a live power line land in a puddle. Our homes are all block construction. Solivita lakes and conservation areas are pristine and well maintained. We have no fear of flood or un-maintained infrastructure. We were concerned about the storm, but we felt safe in our community and in our homes. By morning, Irma had blown past Solivita. We lifted our blinds and upon inspection we could see the damage was minimal.
Solivita did not experience an electric or water service interruption. The Solivita Promise of a Well- Engineered Infrastructure Is True. Communities around us are experiencing Irma Issues; Solivita is NOT. Solivita did have some Florida Oak Trees tip over, and some of our neighbor’s roofs have lost a few shingles, but other than that we are Solivita Strong. Today, the Staff of Solivita is already out assessing damages, replanting trees, our scheduled garbage pick-up is on schedule for today, and on my way to the office I passed a few crews out raking our lawns and cleaning up storm debris. Our restaurants are open today, and tomorrow all of our facilities, pools, tennis courts, etc., are scheduled to reopen.
Glad we live in Solivita; A beautiful, Maintenance Free, Community. Bella Verde Realty and Solivita is up and running today. Our team is already out inspecting our vacant listings for damage and re-installing For Sale Signs. We are ready to show properties and are grateful for the Wonderful Community we live in.
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Farm to Table Dining

We recently enjoyed dinner in The Kitchen at the J. W. Marriott Grande Lakes on Central Florida Parkway, only 20 minutes from Solivita.  We parked our car at the door, left our keys with the valet, and were warmly greeted by the Staff of the J.W.  We met friends and began our evening with inspired cocktails and locally brewed craft beer.  Cold and Delicious.
It may sound like we were eating in a kitchen, but The Kitchen is the name of one of the J.W.’s Restaurants.  Great spot serving food grown on their farm plus food sourced locally from organic growers.  What fun, and only a short drive from Solivita.  We enjoyed a laid back, peaceful, evening.  The Kitchen is furnished with Comfy Chairs, Small Intimate Tables, and Large Farmhouse Tables.  Trendy, but comfortable.  The wait staff is knowledgeable and when asked; were happy to share preparation, garden, apiary, and brewery info with us.  What a Treat, to have this great spot only a few miles from Solivita.  We enjoyed an assortment of meat and cheese (our choices from the chef’s picks).  Our selection was playfully served on a beautiful platter.  Our meat and cheese choices were brilliant, the tray included crisp, lightly pickled vegetables, cheddar chive biscuits, honey and honeycomb, fresh ricotta, rhubarb chutney; and crackers, all grown and produced on the property.    A fun, enjoyable way to share a meal.  Small plates, with a menu including interesting flatbreads, local grass-fed beef, organic chicken, and delicious seafood.   After dinner, it was a quick drive back to Solivita.  A perfect ending to the perfect day.

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Easy Entertaining In Solivita

Since living in Solivita we seem to have company all the time.  Friends and Family visiting the parks stop in for an evening, some stay for a few days, some just stop by for lunch or dinner.  Lee and I have found a few recipes that can be assembled quickly and make a delicious company meal.  I would like to share one with you that I made last week when Lee’s family stopped in.
Tortellini with Prosciutto or Pancetta and Peas
This recipe is not only delicious, but most of the time, the ingredients are in my freezer and refrigerator.  To make this into a complete meal I serve this with a salad and a dish of fruit for dessert and dinner is done.  Our neighbor Marilyn calls this one “Easy Peasy”.   
1 Lb Tortellini (cheese, spinach, or even mushroom)
1/4 – 1 /2 cup water, reserved from cooking pasta  
3 tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves minced
½ onion diced and sauted.
¼ lb prosciutto sliced thinly or pancetta cubed
1 1/4 cup cream or half and half
1 pinch nutmeg
At least ¼ cup parmesan cheese grated
1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed by running under cool water and drained.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Cook tortellini according to package
Melt butter in skillet and add prosciutto or pancetta and cook for a few minutes.
Add Garlic to skillet and cook for one more minute.
Add cream and bring to a simmer.
Add nutmeg and simmer until cream is thickened and reduced by about ½
Turn off heat.  Stir in Parmesan, peas and sautéed onions.
Stir in reserved cooking liquid to thin sauce, add tortellini and toss to coat.
Taste for salt and pepper

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Fabulous Brunch at the Boheme 45 Minutes from Solivita

Recently we Enjoyed a Special Occasion Brunch at The Boheme in Downtown Orlando.  Years ago, when living in the New York Area, a Fabulous, Luxurious, Sunday Brunch was de regular, but since relocating to the laid-back lifestyle of Solivita, a Sunday Brunch in the City, at least for us, has become an uncommon event.
The Boheme Restaurant in the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Orlando awakened our memory of how lovely a Sunday Bruch can be and we are incorporating this former enjoyable afternoon into our Solivita Lifestyle.  Why wait to enjoy this relaxing pleasure?    The Boheme is beautiful, the décor is hot, but relaxing, and begged us to linger over the sumptuous splurge that the Chef’s prepared for our enjoyment.
Musicians played Contemporary Jazz in the background, waiters liberally poured a dry, delicious champagne, and the chefs prepared and plated a beautiful assortment of food that is was as much a treat for our eyes as for our taste buds.  Together, with our fellow diners, we had a delightful afternoon in Orlando, the city near Solivita.
Having lived only five miles from NYC, we ran in and out of the city at whim.  As they say, “every coin has two sides”; true NYC had many benefits but many challenges too.  Since being in Florida and living On Campus in Solivita, we find ourselves avoiding the I4 commute to the city.  Our Bad, downtown Orlando has much to offer, and if you stay on Orange Avenue you can travel to Orlando and back to Solivita (of course not during commuting hours) and avoid I4 all together.   This Sunday, we tested the theory.  Door to Door –  Orlando to Solivita 55 minutes; without one mile on I4.  Nice way to go.
Lots of fabulous places in Downtown Orlando to visit and starting now we are going to visit downtown and add some Southern City Fun to our lives.

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Swinging In Solivita

Recently while showing homes in Kissimmee, I found myself showing two homes with front porch swings. I loved the look and the serene feeling of stepping onto your front porch and having a great place to sit back and relax. What a perfect spot to enjoy a sweet tea or a glass of wine while sitting pretty on your front porch. Both the homes I visited left me with a warm nostalgic feeling; both had beautifully designed swings, one modern and one traditional. Truly a beautiful touch for your Solivita home.
I did a bit of investigating and found that porch swings are making a major comeback. Of course, today they are a bit more contemporary with sleek silhouettes, fresh colors, and lots of pillows, but they are still beautiful and will add value to your home and your life.
In fact, the buyer of one of the homes I recently sold outside of Solivita said ”when I stepped onto the porch, and saw the swing, I knew I had to own this home”. The sale was made from the time we stepped onto the front porch. It’s very interesting what buyers see. This is a great reason to view your home with a critical eye and make sure your home looks as good outside as it does inside. Curb appeal counts. From this example, it is evident that you never know what may trigger a buyer to purchase your Solivita home. Our new neighbor plans to decorate her porch with pots of ferns and flowering plants, an outdoor carpet for texture, and lots of pillows for the swing. The colors she is planning to use are aqua and lime green. This certainly sounds like an inviting place to relax on a cool evening after a long day.
This will likely be a future installation on my own front porch. So, if you find yourself driving around Solivita, and see me swinging, this is your invitation to come sit and swing with me.